The Diet Plonka – Lampzshapes
Dimensions: 5’9” x 19” x 2 1/4”
Features: Epoxy with carbon multi-stringer and multi-fin setup.
Recommended specs: 4-5 inches shorter than your regular board, ¾ inches wider and ¼ inches thicker.
Suggested surf: All-rounder in waves from one to six-foot.
East London shaper Lampeez has quietly been tinkering around in his bay for years, coming up with some quirky and innovative designs like Le Soup Spoon (an asymmetrical tail model) and The Stumpie, his go-to epoxy all rounder. But it’s his collaboration with Kevin Olsen on the Plonka that’s really been turning heads of late.
The Plonka was originally designed by KO as a small board with mega paddle power that would hold a solid line in the barrel – perfect for getting in and under the lip on the heaving French beachies. KO claims the Plonka went so well that he refined it with Lampz to come up with the Diet Plonka, a hi-performance all rounder built on the same principle of a board that is easy to ride, but still gives you hi-performance response.
This is the same trend you see in a lot of modern board design at the moment: shapers and end-consumers are finally on the same page where they agree that a bit more volume and a little less length is not a bad thing for your surfing. You can see this immediately in the plan shape and fuller outline of the Diet Plonka, which looks more like a pod than a slick thruster.
The difference between the Plonka and many ‘fun’ boards out there is that it gives you the lateral planing speed and forgiveness of a fish, but still retains the top-to-bottom attack of a hi-performance thruster. Lampz attributes this to the combination of a super deep concave that runs through the entire bottom deck, along with the ‘open’ fin setup and curvy outline. Interestingly, there is no ‘V’ at all in the bottom deck. Some surfers who are used to a conventional thruster might puzzle a bit at first with the extra volume pushed further up the front of the board, but a minor foot adjustment (like putting the front foot slightly more forward) will sort this out quickly.
We test drove the Diet Plonka with a thruster setup in a variety of conditions ranging from one to three-foot rolling waves along the Durban piers, to some crunchy four foot peaks on the Bluff. There were a couple of things that stood out: the Diet Plonka generates copious amounts of speed and has amazing drive through turns. This may be explained in part by the carbon multi-stringer. The theory goes that your stringer is like a chassis in a car: a well-designed chassis improves the handling, and so do the multi-stringers. Lampz explains that they connect the top and bottom deck, fins and rails all together as a unit that both absorbs and stores energy, and then releases it at critical moments i.e. putting your board on a rail (absorbing the energy), and then releasing it through the turn. Whatever the theory is, it works, and the board seems to slingshot you through well-executed turns.
The Diet Plonka also maintains an exceptional line in the barrel. We’ve seen the evidence of how surfers like Slater and even KO optimise a smaller, wider board to ride deeper in the pit, and the principle holds true for the Diet Plonka. That’s not to say conventional thrusters don’t ride well in the barrel – look no further than John John who swears by his stock-standard 5’11 – but it does mean a hybrid can be far more than just a fun board for when the surf is junky.
Speaking of which, that was one surprising thing about the Diet Plonka: it did not go exceptionally well in junky onshore surf. That’s not to say it went badly, but was not much better than you’d expect from a regular shortboard. On the plus side, it excelled in soft waves like Muizenberg. Yep, we even rode it at the Berg.
The model we rode was made with XPS foam (extruded polystyrene) and glassed with epoxy resin. One of the surfers was a bit skeptical at first, and said they did not like the ‘corkiness’ of epoxy boards that can sometimes make it feel like the board is riding on top of the wave, rather than in the wave, but this concern was quickly laid to rest. The volume and flotation felt very similar to a normal PU shape, but with the added benefit of a significantly stronger board. And we don’t say that lightly: after more than two months of manhandling, including a couple of local flights and a trip to West Africa, the board hardly has a blemish on it and none of the telltale signs of deck sink. Plus the XPS / epoxy combo is pretty lightweight, with our test model weighing in at a mere 2kgs. The only weird thing we found is that the epoxy glassing seems to make it a bit tougher to wax your board. But it’s a small compromise and once you’ve got a good basecoat down, you’re sorted.
The verdict: Hybrids might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we loved this board for its all round versatility and fun factor. We did not get to test it at its maximum threshold (Lampz and KO reckon you can ride it up to barrelling six foot), but it felt solid on the four foot days, although you might start to feel the lack of board over that size. You’ll be forking over a few more skins for the epoxy multi-stringer model (they retail for R3900), but the construction and finish of the board is exceptional, and you’re getting top quality. Plus you’ll have the added benefit of a stick that is noticeably stronger while being nicer to the environment with non-volatile epoxy resin and XPS foam. Alternatively, the regular PU model retails for R3200.
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